Yutaka Nagare says Japan can expect face a hand-to-hand battle with South Africa on Sunday but believes the speed and energy of the Brave Blossoms might just be enough to overcome the Springboks’ brute power.
Rassie Erasmus has made clear his intention to test the hosts physicality levels during their World Cup quarter-final clash in Tokyo by naming six forwards on his bench.
Japan scrum-half Nagare knows his team do not match up to their opponents when it comes to the scales. But he insists the high-tempo game plan that has already left both Ireland and Scotland in a daze can have the same effect on the Boks.
He said: “I think I’ll definitely lose if I go head-on (with the South Africans). I have to use my technique given I’m small.
“The try (Finn) Russell scored in the Scotland game started off with my mistake so I really felt responsible, and I feel they’ll look to attack me in the next game, as well as near the try-line.
“But I’ve decided to go in determined to play with pride for this team. I’ll keep my mind strong. I’ll take them on carrying both mind and technique.
“I want to play smart. They’ll come at us head-on. We know, as you can see from their line-up, they’ll look to make it a forward battle, play a physical game.
“We need to fight properly there of course but it’s important to play the ball smartly and make it a quick battle.
“I’ll keep myself calm and communicate and energise the forwards. It will be real hand-to-hand combat and tough, but I’ll keep giving energy to them and the team.
“I’ll look to connect players through my communication and keep executing the gameplan the coaches showed me.”
South Africa are in no doubt about the dangers Japan pose to their World Cup hopes having suffered one of the biggest shocks the game has ever seen with their defeat at the 2015 tournament.
The Boks recovered to squeeze into the knock-out rounds but could not raise their game again to beat the All Blacks in the semi-finals.
But fly-half Handre Pollard insists the experiences of four years ago will have no bearing on their current mission.
He said: “Four years ago was a complete different story. Different South African side, different World Cup, different place. So a lot has happened in the meantime.
“The guys who were part of that 2015 side certainly learnt from the mistakes we made, and hopefully we can improve on that in this play-off series.
“But it’s not a big focus. We want to play our best rugby on Sunday and win, by one point or whatever – we’ve just got to win.”